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DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Mannhu Iglesias, West Virginia University School of Dentistry

Dental school is a very busy endeavor, why did you decide to commit so much of your time to helping the community?
I started doing community service since I was very young and it has become a part of my life. Because of my busy schedule in dental school, I do not have many opportunities to do community service as usual. However, I can still dedicate a few hours a month. I find that helping the community provides time for self-reflection and motivates me to want to be a better person.

DTA Foundation/Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund Scholarship Recipient Elizabeth Betances, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

Dental school is a very busy time, why did you decide to commit so much of your time to helping the community?
A large part of dental school is spent studying in the library and working on projects in pre-clinic, especially during the first two years. I felt like participating in community service during that time reminded me of why I entered the dental field. Interacting with the kids and adults in our community inspired me to excel so that I could develop the skills to better serve them. When I reached the clinic, I realized the disparities that exist, and how prevention in the community could help to improve these gaps. It was interactive, personable, and honestly just really fun.


DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Natalie Okuhara, University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

Dental school is a very busy time, why did you decide to commit so much of your time to helping the community?
As busy as dental school is, giving back to my community has always been one of my greatest passions and I knew that I wanted to make it a big part of my dental school experience. I enjoy dedicating my time to help my community because I believe that my work is making a positive impact and also encourages others to value and take care of their health. I feel fortunate to be able to apply my dental skills and knowledge to help those that do not have access to dental care. There is also something about connecting with patients through outreach that is very gratifying and constantly keeps me coming back for more.

DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Ronnie Marquez, The University of Missouri-Kansas City

Dental school is a very busy time, why did you decide to commit so much of your time to helping the community?
My passion to help others originates from my upbringing, which has provided me with a unique understanding of the underserved/disadvantaged community.  Raised by a single mother in a neighborhood notorious for being unforgiving, I was originally motivated to pursue higher education to escape my environment in an attempt to overcome difficult circumstances that many fall victim too.   Escaping my environment was my original motivation, but through my Dental education and the opportunities it gave me to work toward improving the lives of others, I now realize that there is great value in my understanding of the needs that suppress these communities and I am now motivated by my ability and the passion I have to help those in need.


Gary and Mary West Senior Dental Center CEO and Dental Director Dr. Karen Becerra sat down with us recently to chat about the 2017 DTA Foundation the program received and the impact it will make in seniors’ oral health.

What is the need your program, Oral Health Education and Peer Ambassador Program for Low-Income Seniors, is seeking to meet and how are you doing that?

DTA Foundation/Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation Recipient Taylor Rae Vracar, University of Florida

“My practice will be centered around a connection I have with a missionary from India. His name is Missionary Sam and he is part of an organization called Life for the Innocent. Missionary Sam and Life for the Innocent rescue children who would normally be sold into the child sex and labor slavery industry and aids in their rehabilitation as they recover from the traumatic experiences they have endured,” Vracar said. “This organization is committed to not only rescuing children from a life of abuse and providing shelter, food, clothing, medical attention, and education, but they are also completely devoted to presenting the children with the gift of salvation and hope that comes from Jesus Christ.“

DTA Foundation Scholarship Recipient Cayla Ray, Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health – A.T. Still University

“While many things have changed in my life, there is one thing has remained the same, and that is my love for helping others,” Ray said. “I never imagined that I would have accomplished as much as I have in such little time; and while getting into dental school has been one of my greatest accomplishments, I am more proud of the privileges that come with the title. As a pre-clinic dental student, I will continue to provide patient education and free dental supplies whenever possible. Upon entering clinic, I will strive to educate patients and provide the best care possible to those in need; and when graduation comes, I will search for a place that needs my knowledge and expertise. Dental school may be my greatest feat thus far, however, I am confident that it is but a stepping-stone to far greater accomplishments as a dentist in my community.”

Thanks to your unwavering dedication and support, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation is proud to celebrate 15 years of funding grants that have positively impacted hundreds of thousands of Americans.

The Foundation was established in 2000 after the publication of Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. In 2002, in conjunction with the Santa Fe Group, the Foundation funded the first of many research and service-oriented projects. Thanks to your generous pledges and donations, as well as your support of the annual DTA Foundation Auction, that number has grown to more than $2 million in grants and scholarships to 62 dental students and 92 oral health programs.

DTA Foundation grants provide seed funding to innovative pilot projects designed to broaden awareness of oral health's impact on overall health and increase access to oral health care for the growing number of Americans in need. The scholarships, established in 2012 thanks to a $250,000 donation from The Robert J. Sullivan Family Foundation, recognizes dental students who have an established commitment to community service by providing $5,000 in financial support to rising third or fourth year dental students who have demonstrated academic excellence in dentistry, financial need and a commitment to community service.

This text will be replaced with the slideshowThe DTA Foundation was nominated and selected as a 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Champion for Kids Award presented by CF Charities. This award is given to those who have demonstrated a strong commitment to help local organizations, under-served communities and schools improve the lives of young people, and expand CF Charities' promise of fueling bright futures. DTA Foundation Executive Director Laura Doyle and Board of Directors Chairman Paul Hinsch attended the 2017 CF Charities Fueling Bright Futures for Kids Gala in June to accept the award.

This text will be replaced with the slideshowA current Dental Trade Alliance Foundation grantee,The Altarum, has helped nearly 33,000 kids in 30 states improve their oral health through their SmileConnect® program --thanks, in large part, to your donations to the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation.

“Support from DTA Foundation has allowed the SmileConnect community to move outside of Michigan, officially launching our nationwide expansion,” said Haley McDermott, Altarum’s Center for Implementation Science philanthropic outreach coordinator. “With DTAF’s support, the SmileConnect community has developed strong partnerships with dental and dental hygiene schools, oral health manufacturers, and philanthropic organizations- relationships critical to addressing each state’s unique oral health climate and needs. ... All of this was possible because of DTAF’s support, and we couldn’t be more grateful.”